This weekend was the inaugural tasting of my long-awaited IPA. And to be honest, I wasn’t initially that happy with it, for a couple reasons. Mainly because it doesn’t really resemble an IPA from a style standpoint…too dark in my opinion. I attribute some of it to the Caramel malt I used, and to a lesser extent the oak chips I dropped into the secondary. Second main flaw is that while pretty darn hoppy (several said the bitterness “really lingered” in the aftertaste), it isn’t as aromatic as it should be (at least for an IPA). I think if I’d dryhopped, it could have improved things a bit. Maybe I’m being too hard on myself, since lately I’ve been drinking fantastic IPAs like Dogfish Head 60 and Bell’s Two Hearted. Guess I shouldn’t really compare.

However, I’ve rationalized things quite nicely. I’m no longer calling this a failed IPA. No, this one has morphed into a very successful hoppy brown ale. It does actually taste somewhat like Newcastle…a little nutty with pleasant caramel notes. And it’s relatively strong. I had a few while watching college football, and felt like I could take on the entire O-line from Ohio State. While not entirely IPA-like, the scent is something like very faint banana esters mixed in with the oak, a unique and pleasing combination. All in all, it’s a pretty good, drinkable beer. Not my best…not my worst. And not the masterpiece I was aiming for.

Rating: B-